Mild weather keeping snow removal budgets low

City budgets seeing impact of mild winter

Despite the 1 to 5 inches of snow we saw across the area on Monday, March 1st marks the meteorological start of spring.

But with the more mild winter we’ve been seeing, how has this year’s weather impacted city budgets for snow removal?

For the last three winters, places like Onalaska and Holmen have spent about average on what they would expect for a typical winter.

But with snow amounts lower than normal this winter, the need for road salt and sand went down, and that’s helping city budgets.

Despite the calendar reading March, it’s back to winter for one more day.

“It’s easier to do the cleaning of the streets before the traffic starts,” said Dean Olson, director of public works for the Village of Holmen.

But Olson said this winter has been a little different.

“We haven’t had as many snow events, and they haven’t been events that have required our guys to come in early in the morning to get the streets cleaned up,” said Olson.

The lack of snow has been good to city budgets.

“The 2016 budget is sitting much better than what the 2015 budget was last year at this time,” said Olson.

In Onalaska, the mild winter helped save on road salt, which is priced around $68 per ton.
With about $78,000 budgeted for sand and salt in 2015, the saved salt will help in the coming year.

“We have not purchased any salt yet in 2016,” said Jarrod Holter, city engineer for the City of Onalaska. “We purchased salt at the end of 2015 to carry us into 2016.”

That surplus is designed to help in future winters.

“If we don’t use this year, we save for the next year, and hopefully we’ve got a surplus for that bad winter we’ll eventually get,” said Holter.

While some may enjoy one of these last tastes of winter, city officials are glad that plows haven’t been so busy this year.

“The less we can get called out, the better it is. It’s easier on staff, it’s easier on budgets, easier for the traveling public,” said Holter. “Ultimately we are here to ensure the roadways are safe for the traveling public, and trying to do the best we can with the resources we’re given.”

Officials said the mild December, as well as the warm temperatures following any snow, helps keep budgets low.

News 8 also spoke to the city of La Crosse which did not have numbers available at this time.